In English


LAG Pirkan Helmi ry
Tietotie 1, 37630 Valkeakoski, FINLAND

Rural Development Specialist,
transnational co-operation,
information services

Mrs. Eliisa Vesisenaho
+358 40 750 2242


Rural Development Specialist, 
local co-operation,
local development activities

Mr. Heikki Konsala
+358 400 226 676


Pirkan Helmi was founded in 1999 to encourage its rural residents to develop their own home communities, improve its amenities and create new jobs and enterprises.

Pirkan Helmi is one of the 55 local action groups (LAG) implementing the Leader initiative in Finland. 


Pirkan Helmi operates in the southern part of Tampere region. The region of Pirkan Helmi consists of the towns of Valkeakoski, Akaa, Urjala and Pälkäne. The total area of the region is 1930 km². The region has good connections formed by the Tampere to Helsinki and Tampere to Turku highways, together with the busiest railway line in Finland.

There are about 49 800 inhabitants in the region of Pirkan Helmi. Out of these, close to a half lives in Valkeakoski and one fourth in Akaa. Akaa,Valkeakoski and Pälkäne are growing in population, while the populations of Urjala is expected to decrease. As a whole, the region of Pirkan Helmi area is growing, but the growth is concentrated in Akaa,Valkeakoski and Pälkäne while Urjala at the same time are losing inhabitants.

The service sector provides the most opportunities for employment in as is the case in the whole of Finland. However, the share of services is smaller than the average for the entire nation, while the share of industry is bigger. Primary production is somewhat more important on an average than in the whole of Finland. The municipalities have different sources of livelihood: Valkeakoski and Akaa are mainly industrial, while Urjala and Pälkäne  are characterized by agriculture.

The strength of Pirkan Helmi is its central location immediately south of the major city of Tampere, and the fact that traffic connections are excellent. Living in the region is cheaper than in the city area, which is a marketing advantage for drawing in new inhabitants. The high unemployment rate in the region is a weak point. The area is also strongly dependant on the existing major industry, and new small enterprises are welcomed.  The acquiring of new inhabitants to the region is seen as a possibility. This would lead to new members taking part in the activities of associations. The development of culture and tourism in the region creates possibilities for entrepreneurship, which in turn creates jobs into the countryside. A risk in the future is the ageing of the population, which weakens the economy of the municipalities.  The weakening of the economy of the municipalities leads to less services, especially in the countryside.


Local action group’s work is always based on a development plan drawn up before the beginning of each programme period. During the programme period 2007-2013 Pirkan Helmi’s work is based on Helmenkalastus (Pearl Fishing) -development plan. The plan  is implemented by funding small grass-root level development and business projects. Pirkan Helmi sees its activities as symbolic “pearl fishing” in which good local ideas – pearls – are refined into a form, which can be put into effect. Pirkan Helmi will also carry out projects itself.

Pirkan Helmi will emphasize four themes in its activities during the programme period 2007-2013: 

• Housing &  Entrepreneurship (45% of funding)

The activities belonging to the theme are sustainable development in support of residing, active leisure time, and small-scale entrepreneurship. Suggestions for active leisure time activities are: To further the sustainable use of the environment for leisure activities, to recondition public bathing beaches and boating facilities, to build and repair communal buildings used for gatherings and festivities, to diversify the use of communal premises, to build and renovate various outdoor paths, and to make new and existing paths more well known.

• Culture (25% of funding)

The activities belonging to the theme are local culture as a resource, taking care of the cultural heritage and culture landscapes, and culture activities for various age groups.

• Civil Society (25% of funding)

The activities belonging to this theme are the civil society as a provider of services, the lively activities of associations and village communities, and the networking between communities in the countryside and in cities.

• Inter-regional and International Co-operation (5% of funding)

Suggestions for activities belonging to this theme are: To look for international partners, to spread information about good patterns and practices for activities, and to further the cultural internationalisation of young people.

Pirkan Helmi will channel approximately 5 million euros towards the development of its area by the year 2013.


All projects receiving funding must be in accordance with the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland 2007-2013, and with the Pirkan Helmi development programme Helmenkalastus. In addition to this, a successful project is characterized by the following qualities: It is based on an actual need, own funding and temporary funding have been arranged, the project must include elements of at least one mainstreaming principle, and it must originate from among the local population. Attention is also paid to the resources of the source putting the project into practice, the eligibility for subsidies, the effects and results of the project, and the innovative nature of the project.

Clear concrete goals and results, especially concerning regional development in the future, are required for the part of international projects. The preconditions are, that inter-regional and international projects produce measurable benefits and added value for the development of the region. The readiness of inter-regional and especially international projects is assessed especially what comes to economic resources, know-how, and intentions.  

The most important criteria for assessing international and inter-regional projects are: The project is in support of the goals of the development plan and brings added value to its implementation, without which the activities in the field of international/inter-regional activities could not be put into effect. The project creates new activities or a new policy. The project spreads tested practices and policies. The project adds to the knowledge and appreciation of local culture. The project furthers the organising of international or inter-regional events, and the project furthers equality and tolerance between different cultures.  

The three mainstreaming principles of the Pirkan Helmi association development plan are: equality, sustainable development, and a communal outlook. The projects belonging to the development plan must further equality between the sexes, between age groups, and between different regions. The principle of sustainable development relating to the society, culture, and the environment, must be taken into account in the development work. The projects must not endanger nature, or the environment as a whole. In addition to the aforementioned, the project must strengthen the communal outlook, since communal activities provide meaningful activities, further a sense of belonging, and prevent marginalisation.

The public funding for the development plan for 2007-2013 comes from the European Union, the government of Finland, and the municipalities of the region. In addition to public funding, also the private sector provides funds. For the part of non-profitable development and investment projects, 50 % of private funding may consist of voluntary work.


In year 2013 the region of South Pirkanmaa is a lively and pleasant place to live in and offers good possibilities to spend leisure time and enjoy culture events. The third sector and small enterprises have an important role as providers of services in the region.

The results from the previous season have been taken into account while assessing the quantitative goals of the plan. The quantitative goals are the following:

  • At least 45 new jobs created in the region
  • At least 35 jobs have been preserved in the region
  • The projects have had an employment effect of at least 50 personal working years
  • At least 35 new enterprises have started
  • At least 35 new services or products
  • At least 10 new village plans and village projects
  • At least 50 separate activities related to the care of landscape and the environment
  • At least 20 new associations and cooperatives
  • At least 20 new buildings or structures
  • At least 25 preserved buildings
  • At least 250 information and activation occasions
  • At least 2 700 persons take part in information and activation occasions

In addition to measurable indicators, the projects produce a lot of results, which cannot be measured, but which have been the result of the Helmenkalastus –development plan. The qualitative goals are the following:

  • Small enterprises are seen as a new possibility for employment in the region
  • Becoming an entrepreneur has become easier
  • The attractiveness and image of the region as a place to live in has strengthened
  • General enjoyment related to living conditions has improved
  • A spirit of togetherness has strengthened
  • Interaction between the countryside and cities has increased
  • Cooperation between associations has improved
  • A communal spirit and citizens’ activities have become stronger
  • Knowledge about local culture has improved
  • Participating in amateur culture activities, such as theatre and dance, has increased
  • The Leader –method has strengthened in the region
  • The cooperation and networking between performers in various cultural sectors and entrepreneurs has increased.

The goal for the programme period 2007 – 2013 in international and inter-regional activities is to increase the share of the association Pirkan Helmi in these matters. Other goals in international and inter-regional activities are:

  • Bringing added value to the development of the area and to the implementing of the development plan with the help of international and inter-regional activities
  • International activities to bring new ideas and ways of working to the region
  • Own knowledge and skills in the region have been passed on
  • Culture exchange programmes have increased the knowledge abroad of the culture in the region
  • Equality and tolerance between cultures has increased
  • The interest in developing the home region has increased, especially among young people


The principles of impartially and confidentiality are central working methods in Pirkan Helmi. The work is based on extensive co-operation between Pirkan Helmi and the local residents, communities, enterprises, organisations and municipalities.

Pirkan Helmi has a board and paid staff. The board is equally represented by private residents, local communities, business and associations, and municipalities. The board has 13 members and it resolves which projects will be funded through Pirkan Helmi by evaluating the project plans and application forms through the Helmenkalastaja development plan.

Executive Manager and project advisor are in charge of the everyday work of Pirkan Helmi. The executive manager counsels project applicants and implementers, refines project ideas, acts as an introducer and secretary of board meetings, supervises the realisation of the Helmenkalastaja development plan, and is in charge of the financial, reporting and administrative duties of Pirkan Helmi. The project advisor also counsels the project applicants and implementers, informs the public about Pirkan Helmi activities, takes care of the office secretarial duties and is in charge of the international activities of Pirkan Helmi.